News In Brief - March 3, 2007
Brief items for use in local church newsletters
Prepared by United Methodist News Service
If you can sing, act, slam dunk or play a mean game of Operation, you could be on your way to fame, fortune and loads of fun at Youth 2007. Teens ages 12 through 18 will have a chance to compete at The United Methodist Church's largest quadrennial youth event, set for July 11-15 in Greensboro, N.C. More than 5,000 youth and their leaders already have registered. Among the activities are an online film festival, a SoulTunes contest for youth bands and songwriters, mission pavilion, speakers corner and an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest game of the classic board game Operation. Fusebox, The Katinas and Superchic[k] are among cutting-edge Christian bands scheduled to perform.
Within days after a powerful tornado roared through Enterprise, Ala., killing eight high school students, Enterprise First United Methodist Church welcomed hundreds of youth for a special worship service to remember their dead and injured classmates and begin the emotional process of healing. Just down the road from Enterprise High School at St. Luke United Methodist Church, where the March 1 tornado knocked out a sanctuary wall, shattered windows and left a hole in the roof, members mobilized and opened a "comfort station" in the church parking lot to offer hot meals to storm victims, relief workers and school system employees on the job. Recovery teams from the Alabama-West Florida Annual (regional) Conference arrived to help clean up, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) sent a $10,000 emergency grant. UMCOR responds to disasters on behalf of The United Methodist Church and is the recipient of the church's One Great Hour of Sharing Offering on March 18.
Instead of finishing her senior year in high school with friends, Jamie Hurst, 18, has some new responsibilities - caring for her infant daughter and working to help pay the bills for her family. "There are times where I just go, 'Man, I wish we would have waited,' because I don't know how I'm going to get through this next step," said the new mom in West Lafayette, Ind. She is not alone. Hurst and about two dozen teen moms and mothers-to-be get help and encouragement from the Teen MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) program at First United Methodist Church in West Lafayette. At weekly meetings, the ministry offers encouragement and instruction through classes about child care, performing CPR on infants, writing a job resume and balancing the family budget.
United Methodist Women are raising awareness about the use of mercury as a preservative in some vaccines and other drugs. Educating the faith community on the issue is the goal of "The Truth is Coming to Light," a conference set for June 6-7 at Simpsonwood Retreat Center near Atlanta. The event is sponsored by the Women's Division of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, the UMW's administrative arm.
On a Sunday when the Indianapolis Colts won the Super Bowl, youth across the United States used the occasion to collect money and canned goods for the hungry. In all, 13,895 youth groups have raised $7.7 million for the Souper Bowl of Caring. Of that amount, 2,628 United Methodist churches collected $919,623. "I am convinced that these young people are being the hands and feet of Christ in their communities," said Jay Clark, one organizer in behalf of the denomination.
The United Methodist Church ranked third in membership in the 75th edition of the Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches, released this month by the National Council of Churches. The 2007 edition reports on a record 224 national church bodies and ranks the 25 largest churches by membership. With membership listed at almost 8.1 million people, The United Methodist Church follows the Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptist Convention. Other mainline Protestant churches in the Top 10 include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ranked seventh with a membership of 4.85 million) and the Presbyterian Church, USA (ranked ninth with a membership of 3.1 million.) The Yearbook is one of the nation's oldest and most reliable sources of church membership and growth trends.
Igniting Ministry, the national advertising campaign of The United Methodist Church, unveils its "Finding Yourself" television commercial on March 26. The new TV message recognizes that what people show on the outside is not always what is happening in their hearts. "As we show others who we really are, we can listen for the Holy Spirit's promptings and explore our life's meaning and purpose within the loving community of The United Methodist Church," according to www.ignitingministry.org . The message will air 963 times, across 15 cable networks, and run for two weeks through Easter Sunday.
Katrina Aid Today has assisted 40,000 families with more than $20 million in services through its program partners. The United Methodist Committee on Relief heads the Katrina Aid Today consortium, which received a $66 million grant through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security. The ministry plans to assist about 60,000 more Katrina-affected families over the next year. Organizers say the greatest need is by survivors displaced from their homes.